Training New Retail Staff

Training new retail staff

So you’ve just hired a bunch of new people for your store and are wondering how to get the most out of them from day one. Well, you’ve come to the right place. Due to my past experience as a manager in the retail industry, I understand the situation you’re in. As long as you set the expectations from the training day, your staff will know where they stand. Keep it friendly at the same time; building relationships with your employees from the beginning is crucial as it builds trust between you and also builds other’s confidence in you as a leader.

Basically, here's what you need to remember:

Be confident and excited, show your enthusiasm! Your new associates are open-minded and are ready to learn more about what the job has in store for them. When you create two-way communication and involvement, your audience retains over 6 times as much information when compared to just talking at them. Asking questions and allowing your new associates to think will encourage them to take ownership over their role in your store.

This is where our VRiTT system can be very beneficial to your retail company as the training platform is based upon staff engagement and involvement using its interactive features. VRiTT can be used over and over again with the employee using either the same of different scenarios offering them the opportunity to effectively compete with themselves and better their score, thus bettering their training.

And remember, it's not good enough to train someone once and leave them to their own devices; constant training and development on the job is crucial to team success. A great way to be constantly developing is through observation and feedback (check out our feedback memo!).  A great way to keep track of development by setting SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Agreed upon, Realistic, Timely).


- The success of your training program doesn’t just rely on your teaching methods, it also hinges on the inherent attitudes and values of your staff. As Bruce Nordstrom puts it, “We can hire nice people and teach them to sell, but we can’t hire sales people and teach them to be nice.”

- Helping new employees succeed in your retail store is best accomplished with retail sales training that offers practical skills.

- Practical skills are those that the motivated salesperson can put to work right away, not concepts that lend themselves to subjective interpretation.

- Rather than general mantras "our customers should be treated like kings - or queens", solid retail sales training offers two primary benefits – knowledge and confidence.

- Specific, relevant knowledge helps new employees to feel secure in their actions.

- That security produces a sense of confidence that is demonstrated verbally and non-verbally, increasing sales success and business profitability.

- Without confidence, associates frequently sell by offering discounts or talking up your clearance merchandise. That won't make you profitable!

The question "How to train retail employees" is best answered by:

1) Getting them comfortable with your products

2 )Getting them comfortable talking to strangers

3) Getting them to notice their body posture

4) Using online retail sales training to make it easier.

5) Using an interactive method of training to increase employee engagement.

Let's go deeper...

Developing A Solid Foundation

When a customer has basic questions about a product or service and your retail staff are unable to provide solid, knowledgeable answers, the sale is on its way to being lost.

Furthermore, the potential customer's opinion of the retailer has just taken a negative hit. Of course, they won't tell you that, they just won't return.

The foundation of successful retail sales training is a thorough knowledge about what is being sold. When not fully familiar with a product, customers expect a salesperson to help them. If they don't the customer goes to their smartphone and may then shop from a competitor while still standing in your store.mKnowledgeable staff build trust and trust makes sales, and better yet, repeat customers.

Communication Skills Are Essential

Teaching practical communication skills is one of the most important elements of successful retail sales education. All the knowledge in the world won't help if your new salespeople lack the skills to communicate that information effectively.

Skills for effectively communicating information include things such as using a professional, not casual, tone of voice, clarity of expression, such as not using slang or jargon, the proper type of eye contact, and remembering not to over-talk or interrupt.

We used to feel good associates just came to us with those skills but nowadays, some of the most basic communication skills must be taught by retailers. And if you think it's all about tightly scripted employee-customer interactions, it isn't. Those have nothing to do with communication skills.

Often, the type of training that focuses so heavily on what is said to customers, neglects the other side of the communication skills equation – listening. Through listening, more is learned about the customer and what they are looking for, and an associate is better able to meet that need, as well as take advantage of natural opportunities for upselling.

Understanding The Role Of Non-Verbal Communication

Often new employees don't realise how they are perceived by others and fail to understand the positive and negative potentials of non-verbal communication. Smart retail sales training addresses this directly, discussing how clothing, hairstyling, and other personal appearance choices can affect interactions with the public.

Posture matters. A person slouching their way through the store, with a sour or surly facial expression doesn't look approachable.

Those who basically want to avoid customers and play on their phones should work for a competitor, not you.

Overcoming A Casual Culture

Sales training for retail staff helps to overcome the effects of an increasingly casual culture. Today people enter the workforce at all ages not knowing that casual styles of speech and dress are not appropriate for work. They haven't had direct teaching regarding courtesy, communication skills, and professional behaviour. Often, new hires are eager to succeed, but simply haven't yet gained the skills to do so. Investing in educating them gives these employees the tools they need to be as successful as they – and you – hope they will be.

Dami Hastrup